Art/Theater

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Buffalo United Artists always pushes the edges with new and provocative performances. Friday evening, the theater company premiers 'Bette & Joan: The Final Curtain.' WBFO's Eileen Buckley says it's a story about Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, the legendary Hollywood screen stars of the 1940s and 50s, but in BUA style with male actors performing the roles.

In a popular Cole Porter musical we are advised to “Brush Up Your Shakespeare” while the cast sings about “Another Opening, Another Show.” Here in our area, starting last night and going through this weekend we have six (6!) openings (including Shakespeare) from which to choose. And that’s in July! Buffalo is definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Peter and Anthony went to see SISTERS OF SWING: THE ANDREWS SISTERS MUSICAL starring Wendy Hall, Michele Marie Roberts, and Renee Landrigan as Laverne, “Maxene,” and “Patty” Andrews (contralto, soprano, and mezzo). Peter was impressed with Landrigan’s ability to stay right on the knife edge balancing schmaltz with cool, channeling her inner Bing Crosby. Neat trick. Philip Farugia plays their manager, Vic Schoen, and serves as the music director of a very tight backup combo while Nicholas Lama is cast as “Everyone Else” (Danny Kaye, Carmen Miranda, cab driver, etc.). You may have seen it several years ago, but this is a new cast and in a little over two hours you get 24 high energy songs and solid performances from all, through August 9 at Musicalfare Theatre, 4380 Main Street in Amherst.

SISTERS OF SWING: THE ANDREWS SISTERS MUSICAL opened this week and runs through August 9th at Musicalfare Theatre, 4380 Main St., located on the Daemen College campus in Amherst.  And Musicalfare's Randall Kramer takes his talents on the road to Lewiston, presenting PETER PAN, the Broadway musical based on the play by J.M. Barrie, opening at Artpark on July 30th.

Amanda Browder

Brooklyn artist Amanda Browder is working to transform an art gallery in Buffalo's University Heights neighborhood into a work of art and she's inviting the community to help.

stratfordfestival.ca

Plays can be funny, entertaining or thought provoking. Sometimes, all of the above. At the Stratford Festival this season, Miles Potter is directing Friederich Durrenmatt's "The Physicists," a look at atomic scientists and ethics. WBFO's Mike Desmond spoke with Potter.

Peter is heading south this weekend to see a diverse cast in OUR TOWN, the classic play by Thornton Wilder, presented by the Chautauqua Theater Company through July 12th at the Bratton Theater (your theater ticket is also your gate pass for the Chautauqua Institution). Anthony says that if you did OUR TOWN in high school, forgive that experience, and see the play anew.

Mike Desmond/wbfo news

The money raising for restarting the old Broadway Theater continued Tuesday night with a fundraiser in the lobby of the Ellicott Square Building.

We have one opening this weekend: Nickel City Opera presents THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO, the story of the lecherous Count, the innocent Susanna, the wily Figaro, and the long suffering Countess. It’s at the Riviera Theatre, in a full production with professional singers and orchestra, Friday at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

Graphic from Nickel City Opera

One of the more popular operas is being performed this weekend at the Riviera Theatre in North Tonawanda.  Nickel City Opera will stage Mozart's masterpiece  The Marriage of Figaro.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley had a chance to attend a rehearsal where the stars of this opera were gearing up for performances Friday and Sunday. 

ROMEO AND JULIET, the tragedy by Shakespeare presented by Shakespeare in Delaware Park, opened at “Shakespeare Hill” in Delaware Park and runs Tuesday through Sunday at 7:30pm through July 12. While Peter still naively clings to the notion that this is a romance, Anthony reminds us that it is a tragedy, played out by a number of mercurial characters, not just Mercutio. Take a blanket or jacket and something to sit on; and, in the best Shakespearean tradition, refreshments may be purchased on-site and consumed during the performance (from which the phrase “The Peanut Gallery” comes).

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This year at the Shaw Festival, Harveen Sandhu plays Eliza Doolittle. Not the singing Eliza, but the Eliza of the source material, George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. WBFO's Mike Desmond spoke with Sandhu about the role.

shawfest.com

The Shaw Festival is featuring a splashy song-and-dance musical this season. "Sweet Charity" is the story of a dancer seeking love and Julie Martell is on stage almost constantly in the role. She spoke with WBFO's Mike Desmond.

FUN HOME, the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist, swept five Tony Awards this past Sunday in the musical category.

The 25th Annual Artie Awards presentation last Monday night at 710 Main Theatre was a high energy non-stop romp featuring seven musical numbers with the original Buffalo casts, very funny ad-libs, not to mention lots of fabulous shoes and great hair.  The venue was a first for the Arties, but we hope not the last. 

Photo from The Book of Mormon webpage

"The Book of Mormon" returns to Shea's Buffalo this week.  The show broke records two-years ago with the Buffalo audience. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley talks with Shea's President Tony Conte about why the Broadway hit is so popular in this community and its one-week return for eight-shows.

Photo from The Arities Website.

Buffalo's theater community will be celebrating its best productions and performers Monday night. The 25th Annual Arties will be held at 710-Main Theater downtown. 

photo courtesy of Shaw Festival

The Shaw Festival's production of "Peter and the Starcatcher" is drawing favorable reviews. One of the show's stars, actor Martin Happer, took time recently to discuss his role as Black Stache.


Photo from the Buffalo Philharmoic Orhcestra

Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director JoAnn Falletta is the recipient of the statewide SUNY Distinguished  Medallion of Distinction Award.  WBFO'S Eileen Buckley says Falletta was honored for her accomplishments and working closely with the University at Buffalo.

With five venues, settled in a quaint town with plenty of walk-to attractions, the Shaw Festival in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, continues to attract a sizeable audience from Buffalo. Anthony Chase reports in during the intermission of "Peter and the Starcatcher" at the Royal George Theatre which is attracting a large number of younger audience members (suitable for 8+) who react audibly to the imaginative plot - the "prequel" to "Peter Pan."

The 25th Annual Artie Awards, Buffalo's celebration of local theater, will be held on Monday, June 1 at 710 Main for the first time. The event will be hosted by actors Charmagne Chi, recently seen in "Carousel," and Amy Jakiel, recently in "She Loves Me," with Artvoice theater editor and Theater Talk co-host Anthony Chase.  Doors (and bar) at 710 Main will open at 7 p.m.; the Artie Awards show begins at 8 p.m.  The modest admission fee helps support the Immunodeficiency Clinic at ECMC.

710 Main Theatre looking to build on past success

May 19, 2015

In preparing the 2015-2016 schedule for 710 Main Theatre,  it's apparent that Shea's President Anthony Conte considered a wide array of possibilities.

Kelli Bocock-Natale is two for two (her previous Macbeth was a knockout) as a winning director of Shakespeare at the New Phoenix Theatre.  Bringing Shakespeare's inventive language to 21st century ears demands every ounce of love and attention that a director can muster, and aided by an eye-catching (though minimal) set from Paul Bustaph and an appropriately magical, mystical soundscape by Tom Makar, Bocock-Natale "brings it" (including a new twist on the ending) to "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (through May 23).

With so many regional stages it's bound to happen that some productions are uneven, and this week while "Carousel" (MusicalFare thorugh May 17) was generally disappointing, "The Beauty Queen of Leenane" (Irish Classical through May 17) was helped by Kristen Tripp Kelley.  Anthony enjoyed "Rust Belt Grotesque" (ART InTheBox through May 23) and the musical "She Loves Me" (Kavinoky through May 24).  And Theater Talk is very much looking forward to Kelli Bocock-Natale's direction of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (New Phoenix Theatre through May 23).

The 69th annual Tony Award nominations were announced Tuesday morning by co-hosts Mary-Louise Parker, past Tony winner, and Bruce Willis (yes, since you just asked yourself, he's going to make his Broadway debut in the upcoming "Misery"). The awards will be handed out on June 7th in a live telecast from Radio City Music Hall, co-hosted by Kristen Chenoweth and Alan Cumming. 

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The 2015 Pulitzer Prizes were announced early this week and "Between Riverside and Crazy" by Stephen Adly Guirgis won for drama, a work written with Buffalo actor and UB teacher Stephen McKinley Henderson in mind.

WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

The Tony Award winning Broadway show Kinky Boots opened this week at Shea's. The lead producer is a 25-year veteran in Broadway shows and a four-time Tony Award winner. As WBFO's Eileen Buckley reports, the producer says he is thrilled to bring Kinky Boots to a Buffalo audience.


Photo provided by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orhcestra

It's been more than 70 years since the death of Glenn Miller. But his music, popularized during World War II, lives on in modern times. The Glenn Miller Orchestra performs Friday morning and Saturday evening with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra at Kleinhan's Music Hall. WBFO's Eileen Buckley spoke to the music director and vocalist Nick Hilscher. 


This week Anthony interviewed Steven McKinley Henderson in an "Inside the Actor's Studio" format and enjoyed Henderson's memories about Broadway, Hollywood, The Regional Theater Movement, The Black Arts Movement, and August Wilson. 

If you are a Downton Abbey fan you might want to check out a comedy theater production in Buffalo.  America's Got Downton plays Friday and Saturday evenings, April 10th & 11th, at 7:30 at 710-Main Theatre downtown. WBFO'S Eileen Buckley sat down with London actor and impressionist Luke Kempner who performs a one-man show featuring his comedic take on more 30 Downton characters. 


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